It’s been two days and the Packers have come to agreements with Nick Perry, Letroy Guion, Lane Taylor and Mason Crosby. That’s a pretty productive offseason so far. Unfortunately, it doesn’t do anything to appease the fans and (some of) the beat writers. In order to get anyone excited the Packers need to sign someone from a different team, whose former team deemed it unnecessary to bring them back.
Would it have been nice to sign Matt Forte? Sure. Can you pay a second or third round pick a third of what you’d have to pay Forte and not have to worry about that player being 33 at the end of the deal? You bet. Is it even a foregone conclusion that the Packers aren’t going to add someone external? No it certainly isn’t.
The Packers don’t participate in the first two days of free agency under Ted Thompson. It’s often throwing bad money after bad. Just because you’ve heard of a player doesn’t mean that player is any good. Often just because that player was productive it doesn’t mean that player was any good.
What do I mean by that? Often players are a byproduct of the systems that they play in and the teammates they play with. Name one member of the Legion of Boom who has left the Seahawks and had success. You can’t. Byron Maxwell and Brandon Browner have not been good. We’re going to find out if Malik Jackson and Danny Trevathan are any good in the next few years, as they leave the cozy confines of Denver’s Demarcus Ware/Von Miller defense.
Is Ted Thompson perfect? No. But he’s better than most. Let’s take a look at two contracts given out by Ted Thompson in the last six months, and two free agent comparisons who signed their deals over the course of the past 72 hours.
Nick Perry vs. Bruce Irvin
Is Bruce Irvin a better football player than Nick Perry? Yes, probably. If I could guarantee you, though, that both players were going to give you 16 games would their production be more similar than most would admit? Yes. Irvin’s not without his questions, either. Just look at Chris Clemons (lack of) success after leaving Seattle’s defense. Life gets more difficult when you’re not rushing the passer on the same line as Michael Bennett.
Just take a look at their 2015 statistics. I’m not going to talk about total tackles, because I just don’t care about them for edge defenders. It’s not important. I am going to talk about splash plays and film grades. Pro Football Focus gave Perry an overall grade of 73.2 for 2015 and gave Irvin a grade of 78.0, classifying both players as above average starters (yellow or gold). Those are their overall film grades from PFF and I can’t say I disagree.
Irvin gave the Seahawks eight tackles for loss and 5.5 sacks a season ago over the course of 735 snaps. Those are respectable numbers. Perry provided the Packers with ten tackles for loss and seven sacks in just 365 snaps. Perry provided more production with less of an opportunity than Irvin had. Irvin himself has his missed six games over the course of the last three seasons. He’s no ironman.
I bring that up because the Oakland Raiders just gave Bruce Irvin four years and $37 million dollars, with $18 of that being guaranteed. The Packers just gave Perry a one year deal for $5. Even if that deal was for four years (it isn’t), it would still only be for $20 million (it isn’t). Hash tag Theodore, you guys.
Mike Daniels vs. Malik Jackson
During the season, Ted Thompson re-signed Mike Daniels to a four-year deal, locking up the Iowa product for basically the rest of his athletic prime. Daniels has been a revelation, and although he doesn’t get the recognition, he is likely the Packers best player on defense.
Malik Jackson was a key contributor to the Broncos Super Bowl defense and one of the better 3-4 defensive ends in the league in his own right. Jackson has 14 sacks over the course of the last three seasons. That’s a very respectable number for a 5-tech.
As far as tape is concerned, Pro Football Focus graded Malik Jackson as the 16th best interior defender in the NFL in 2015. 31st against the run and seventh as an interior pass rusher. Daniels checked in at number nine, 12th against the run and ninth rushing the passer.
Mike Daniels is probably a little better than Malik Jackson. At the very worst, they’re comparable. What isn’t comparable is the fact that Daniels’ deal was for four years and $42 million, and Jackson just got six years and $90 million. Hash tag Theodore, you guys.
I understand that the point of the NFL is not to hand out the best contracts, to start the season with the most cap space, or to build the youngest roster. It’s to win the Super Bowl. The thing is, that these players that many of you want Thompson to sign were by definition not important enough to their teams to be re-signed. They are all cast-offs. Every single one of them. Someone else could have been let go to allow these UFAs to stay.
The marginal players for the Packers have to be draft picks. They’re young, they’re (often) talented, and they’re cheap. The Packers need the cap space to try and keep talented players like Perry and Daniels on the team. It’s just the way that Ted does thing, and if you put his record over the last decade up against other organizations, I think you’d understand that it’s yeoman’s work.